National Adoption Week 2016
I'll admit that #NAW16 has caught me napping this year. I''m chiding myself a little bit because it was National Adoption Week 2010 that brought me into the Bloggersphere as I wanted to share our journey with potential adopters. I suspect I was very rosy-tinted back then and I had good reason to be. We were ok Jack. We had our dream ending.
Except we didn't.
We just didn't know it then.
One thing I've learned is that there is no "ending". Adoption is just the start of the journey. It's not a journey without incident. Think "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and you're getting a bit closer to the type of journey you might be embarking on. As I type this I'm thinking about the challenging start to the day today and how frustrated and angry I felt when Katie refused to go to school because Daddy was going to take her. The reason Daddy needed to take her to school was because she didn't hurry up enough and we were late. If she'd eaten her breakfast when asked then we might have been on time. She didn't eat her breakfast though because the yoghurt was one day out of date. It was perfectly fine to eat but to an anxious, OCD, FASD brain she would be sick and probably die if she ate it. Maybe I should have done as requested and made her another breakfast but I'm afraid I refuse to give her anxiety over food too much airplay because it makes her worse. If she hadn't been screaming and shouting about breakfast then I wouldn't have been delayed and then maybe I could have taken her to school.
But we were delayed and I asked Daddy to take her to school because I was still drying my hair. I was already stressed because of the rigmarole over breakfast and also the fact that I had to get my car to the garage to be fixed; take two children to school and prepare the house for a client who was coming for a Reiki appointment.
Let's just say our house didn't reflect any image of the house where the mum is a Reiki Practitioner that you might have. There was no zen to be found anywhere.
I probably didn't help things by pretending to phone school and ask to speak to the Head Teacher but I was desperate to get her to school at that point. I should have remembered that she'd just spent the weekend sabotaging Pip's birthday so was clearly highly stressed and needed the kid gloves approach but I was late and I'm really not good at responding well when I'm both late and stressed. The meltdown that followed the pretend call was epic and visceral. No good to be had there.
I felt so alone and frustrated. Daddy needed to get to work. I felt like everyone was looking at me to find a magic solution to the screamfest that was our house. Daddy got my big voice as well I'm afraid as I sent him to work telling him that I was just winging it the same as everyone else and I didn't always have the answer.
I'm sure some people in my life think I'm Google you know!
With Daddy gone Katie calmed down. I told her we were going to take Pip to school and then get her to school late. As it turned out the Lollipop Lady was still outside school and kindly waited for us to go into school and come back before locking the gates (I have chocolates to give her at pick up time). I managed to get a subdued Katie into school and have a quick word with the Head and asked her to keep an eye on Katie today. We were only 15 minutes late. Pip was 30 minutes late. I then had to nip home; get my car; drive to the garage to drop the car off and walk home. The walk home was very therapeutic and I decided to practice my new skill of mindful walking. By the time I got home I was ready to clean up and get my practice room ready.
So why am I sharing this story today? Well I think it fits in nicely with the theme for #NAW16 which is Support Adoption. It's a clever play on words really because you could read it as a request to support adoption in general or you could read it as the support adopted people need and also the support we adopters need when parenting children who are often experiencing lots of challenges.
I'm going to focus on the latter interpretation because without support for adoptive families and the children then adoption in general becomes highly problematic. As a family we now need support. We don't just need it as a one off. We need it on an ongoing basis. We need someone to say "I'll help you coordinate that support" or "I have an idea of the kind of support package you need". Sadly that isn't how it works. The reality is that you have problems and you try everything in your power to fix the problems. Then the problems get too much and you need help but you don't know what sort of help you need. You contact Post-Adoption Support and they assess you. You start to feel optimistic that someone is going to really help you. They then offer you some in-house Theraplay sessions when what you really need (as in our case) is someone who can help you access a diagnosis for FASD and a psychological and sensory profile and provide a full picture of what your child needs. You need someone who can coordinate that package but you get offered Theraplay.
Don't get me wrong, our Post-Adoption Social Worker (PASW) is lovely but lovely doesn't give me what I need. Instead I have contacted the GP and manipulated him into the referral to a paediatrician. I have taken Katie to see a Behavioural Optometrist. I have asked our PASW to access funding via the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) for an Occupational Therapist. I have self-referred us to CAMHS. Where is the support for doing all that? Where is the support package for my adopted daughter? She's lucky she has an adoptive mum who used to specialise in support for young people and who talks to other adopters because that is the only way she is accessing the support she needs. I have been trying to get this sorted for 4 years and we are only just getting somewhere. Today I received an email from our PASW who wants to close our case because she has done her little bit but she can reopen the case if we need some specific work around adoption.
I'm sure you can imagine what I'm thinking. The air inside my head is blue! I know she has lots of other families that need support but what support are they actually offering? Where is the coordination of services that we need? Why am I having to coordinate all this on my own? Why doesn't the ASF fund Behavioural Optometry when it might actually help my child?
So #SupportAdoption is an interesting topic for me this year. My rosy-tinted glasses have been ripped off big-time. That's not to say that I regret adopting. I don't. I love and adore my children and I'm still an advocate for adoption in cases where children absolutely need a new family. It is that love that will keep me coordinating their support and fighting for the help they need. But it doesn't stop me wishing that someone else could be in our life to advise us on the support we need and help coordinate that for us. It doesn't stop me wishing someone could have told me years ago that an Occupational Therapist could lift the lid on the struggle our daughter has at school and prevented me having to shout out in the wilderness for 4 years before anyone heard me. It does rather feel like the support on offer for people who are adopted or who are adopters is crying out for coordination and definitely needs to be more easily accessed. Maybe if it was we wouldn't have experienced the awful morning we had this morning because we would have had the help we need a few years ago and my children might be further along the road to recovery than they actually are.
I will be sharing information about adoption and videos from other adopters via the Life with Katie Facebook page over the course of the week. Do come and share your thoughts about adoption with me.